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Director says multiple Arizona nursing homes had around 300 complaints

The head of the Arizona Department of Health Services is talking about his agency’s failure to investigate hundreds of cases of abuse and neglect. 

When asked at a hearing on Thursday about a nursing home in the West Valley that had around 300 complaints, interim Director Don Herrigton told the Ad Hoc Committee on Abuse and Neglect they weren’t the only ones.

"It's not like I want to wash my laundry right here in front of you all, but it's true," he said. "And we're trying to make sure that you get the most clear picture. I believe there's three or four that had about that number of complaints."

Dana Marie Kennedy is the state director of AARP Arizona and a member of the committee.

"It was just jaw dropping, and, you know, chilling, disturbing, really frustrating on so many levels, and as Rep. [Jen] Longdon said, this is not just data, these are human beings," said Kennedy.

The follow up report found that Department of Health Services closed several high priority complaints without a required onsite investigation. 

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.